by Lucinda Ho
Plants need time to grow ¡V the rhythm of nature has taught a formerly impetuous Connie Fung Yuen-yee to slow her pace and led her way to become a pioneer of horticultural therapy in Hong Kong.
¡§Through gardening, people can improve their bodies and minds,¡¨ said Ms Fung, the first and only horticultural therapist here registered with the American Horticultural Therapy Association.
After attaining her qualifications two years ago, Ms Fung, a veteran social worker for 20 years, decided to quit her job and set up the Hong Kong Horticultural Centre in July 2005 to help people improve their health through gardening treatment.
Horticultural therapy, which is new in Hong Kong , was originated in the United States more than 50 years ago. The therapy aims to improve people¡¦s health and well-being, especially those with mental or physical disabilities, by modulating their bodies and mind through gardening activities.
Other than improvement in physical health, Ms Fung said, gardening also has psychological therapeutic effects. She said most of her students would become more patient and reasonable after attending her course. Ms Fung herself has also benefited from this mental therapy.
She used to be an impetuous person and like jumping to conclusion without any logical reasoning. But horticulture therapy has made her understand the importance of patience in life, just like how plants require time and nurture to grow. She now knows how to be at ease with herself, she said.
¡§When I find myself having a problem, instead of keeping myself worried, I will try to distract myself by doing s omething else. This will get my mind off the problem and give me time to think things through. When I go back to the problem later, it will not seem as bad as what I first thought it would be,¡¨ Ms Fung said.
She sees herself as an optimist who looks at the bright side of things, just like sunflower which turns to follow the sun. When she is upset or under a great deal of stress, she will prune plants, water them, re-arrange their positions and tidy up her garden to relax herself.
Gardening has also taught Ms Fung that one does not need to be too persistent in life. She said there were many things that were beyond men¡¦s control, like she could not prevent heavy rains from falling and affecting the growth of flowers.
¡§We should not be too persistent. We should learn to treasure what we have at the moment,¡¨ she said.
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